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OSHA Fines TX Cement Company $286K

Monday, June 9, 2014

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A Texas cement mixer manufacturer faces $286,200 in proposed fines for nearly three dozen alleged safety and health violations, federal regulators said.

Houston-based Continental Manufacturing Co. Inc., doing business as Continental Mixers, was cited for 35 safety and health violations, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Tuesday (June 3).

OSHA launched an inspection of the company's Houston facility after receiving a complaint from an employee who was injured using an unguarded power tool. The agency cited Continental Mixers for 22 serious, nine other-than-serious and four repeat violations, including multiple hazards to workers using the spray paint booth and performing blasting work.

Continental Mixers

OSHA cited Continental Mixers with 35 alleged safety and health violations, and said the company "has exposed its workers to needless and unnecessary hazards, jeopardizing employees' safety."

Continental Mixers manufactures a range of cement mixers and replacement parts. Its Houston location employs 130 workers. Its parent company, Navistar, has about 16,500 employees worldwide, according to OSHA.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday (June 6).

$154K for Repeat Hazards

Over half of the proposed fine total was issued for hazards that OSHA previously cited the company for.

"By failing to identify and correct these numerous safety and health violations, Continental Mixers has exposed its workers to needless and unnecessary hazards, jeopardizing employees' safety," said Mark Briggs, OSHA's area director in the Houston South Area Office.

Four repeat violations, with a proposed $154,000 fine, were cited for failing to conduct periodic inspections of lockout/tagout procedures and failing to guard machines at the point of operation.

Repeat violations exist when an employer has been cited by OSHA within the last five years for the same or a similar violation. OSHA said similar violations were previously cited at a facility in Springfield, OH.

According to OSHA, the repeat violations and the nature of the hazards have landed Continental Manufacturing in the agency's Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

The Severe Violator Enforcement Program focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. The program mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law, and OSHA can inspect any of the employer's facilities or job sites.

The citation documents can be viewed here and here.

22 Serious Violations

The 22 serious violations carry a proposed penalty of $122,300 and include:

  • Failure to keep hand tools in safe working condition, as well as maintain personal protective equipment in a sanitary and reliable condition;
  • Exposing workers to airborne concentrations of dust particles over the permissible exposure limit;
  • Failure to provide workers with a medical evaluation of physical fitness and to use air purifying respirators;
  • Failure to maintain or replace breathing air filters as per manufacturer instructions;
  • Using damaged electrical cords with power tools;
  • Installing electrical equipment not approved for hazardous locations on a paint booth;
  • Dispensing flammable or combustible liquids from one tank to another without secondary containment or means to control a spill;
  • Using flammable coatings in a paint spray booth not equipped with a fire suppression system; and
  • Not providing employers using chemicals in the prime and finish paint areas with information on the requirements of the Hazard Communication Standard.

OSHA launched an investigation of Houston-based Continental Mixers after a getting a complaint from a worker who was injured using an unguarded power tool.

Serious violations are those that OSHA says reflect "substantial probability" of death or serious physical injury from a hazard the employer knew or should have known about.

Nine other-than-serious violations, with $9,900 in penalties, were issued for failure to properly store compressed gas cylinders; record injuries and illnesses; identify and evaluate respiratory hazards; and fit test facepiece respirators before employee use.

The company has 15 business days from receiving the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's Houston South area director, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


Tagged categories: Cement; Hazards; Health and safety; OSHA; Personal protective equipment

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